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America Under Attack: Convenience Suffers For Security's Sake

Aired September 14, 2001 - 01:48   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM CLANCY, CNN ANCHOR: While most international flights into the United States are still prohibited, some that had been diverted to Canada on Tuesday were allowed to return to the United States. The first to land was an Alitalia plane, flying from Calgary from Los Angeles.

Further north in the Golden State, San Francisco's airport also opened up shop. CNN's James Hattori caught one of the first flights out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAMES HATTORI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The fifth biggest airport in the U.S. didn't look so busy Thursday morning as the nation's airlines struggled to regain their wings. One reason, no more curbside check-in. Bags must go to the counter, so now the crowds are inside. That's where I was trying to get on a flight to Salt Lake City, Utah.

(on camera): It's about two hours before our plane takes off, and a line of passengers here is about as long as a football field. We're not even sure the plane's going to be taking off. I did see a crew starting to go through the gate - that's encouraging.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not going to believe we're going until I'm on the flight and we take off the runway.

HATTORI: The FAA now requires airlines to scrutinize passengers more carefully. Some changes are apparent. One new question, do you have any sharp objects like knives or scissors?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They took my scissors away. I guess my -- I guess my scissors was too pointy at the top.

HATTORI: In addition to ID checks, some bags apparently picked at random, are hand searched and only ticketed passengers allowed into the gate area. Less obvious changes, all aircraft must now be thoroughly checked for explosives before they're put into service for the day. The airlines are no longer permitted to carry cargo or mail within the continental U.S. except for the U.S. Military.

But with the tragedy in New York City still unfolding, no one seems to mind the delays and a little hassle. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You keep remembering so many people have it so much worse. I mean this is nothing, you know, if I don't get out today, I don't get out today. At least I'm here and not there -- so.

HATTORI: Some say Americans haven't paid enough attention to airline security.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want things very convenient. We're a convenience-oriented people and you can't have secure convenience.

HATTORI: Finally after three hours to check in, we're off. Delta Flight 2027, a short 80-minute hop, which surprisingly is nearly empty, just 25 passengers. I wonder how many were left at the airport still in line.

(on camera): All in all, our short trip was uneventful -- a little longer, a few more questions than normal, but for awhile, at least, nothing about U.S. air travel will be normal.

James Hattori, CNN, Salt Lake City, Utah.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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